Once upon a time, "hacking" meant breaking into some computer mainframe to save Sandra Bullock from the evils of The Internet. Over the past few years, however, the verb has transformed into something far more productive (and certainly less illegal), especially with the popularity of IKEAhackers.com and the DIY phenomenon of which we are all a part. Now, again, the word is transforming and expanding its reach beyond bookshelves and binary B&E.
An article from iMediaConnection.com investigates the etymological evolution of the word "hack," saying that "essential lessons can be learned about things, systems, and the world by taking them apart, seeing how they work, and using this knowledge to inspire new and meaningful creations."
This now includes a world as vague as customizing Facebook beyond its thousands of built-in options and as specific as the alerts sent to social media outlets when weight-conscious Brazilians are naughtily reaching for a midnight snack. From a brand standpoint, author Sailish Wadhwa notes the importance of hacking and acknowledges how inherent it is in us all:
In a brand building context, it simply means that customers and fans of a brand should be encouraged to infuse a part of themselves into the brand, even if it means altering the established culture codes of that company. This helps make the brand immersive -- which in the current context is limiting due to conventional marketing approaches to social media.
In fact, it is not something new -- we all have grown-up being part of some brand hack club at some point of time. Be it pimping-up our rides by modifying dad's good old Beetle, big brother's Yamaha 350, or recycling fashion statements of yester-years with our very own twists.
The popularity of hacking has taken the reigns of creation from the specialists and placed it directly in the hands of consumers: an idea so simple, it's only a matter of time before it, too, is hacked.
For now, let's just revel in the glow of this paint chip baby changing station.